I moved here from Maryland, as did a lot of people. I wasn’t ahead of that trend but I was totally with it. I’ve lived in York for 12 years now and yet never felt even the slightest itch to go watch the spectacle at the York Fair.
I knew it existed, sure, and I knew people went to it… but those people weren’t me. Ever. I realize it’s a little like blasphemy to miss such a ubiquitous social event that many times in a row, but you’ve got to understand that I move slowly. By the time I get into the car with my ticket and my keys and everything else I’ve missed the two-week window.
But all that changed this year, as I headed up on a borrowed ticket yesterday to see the great yearly aggregation of York County culture.
The number one warning everyone has about the York Fair is to watch where you park, or else you’ll lose your car forever. I circumvented this problem by buying parking next to the sidewalk fifty feet away from the entrance. It worked, although I was a little sickened that I’d already dropped five bucks and wasn’t even through the gates yet.
A major danger to enjoyment of seasonal venues like this is love of money, because you never just spend $20 for a ticket here. I lost $5 on parking, like I mentioned, and then another $6 by standing too close to a root beer stand, prompting the guy to ask me what I wanted.
I wanted nothing, but that’s just not something you can say. So I bought the cheapest item on his menu – one miniature bottle of root beer, $6. And I mean, it was seriously good root beer, and if I had infinite money I’d commend myself on my purchase, but as it was it just taught me to walk in the middle of fair lanes and avoid eye contact at all times.
And the dunk tank, of course. What an odd breakdown of social constructs that is. We have explicit permission to throw this guy in the water and, in return, he’s allowed to call on all the forces of bigotry and absurdity to insult us.
I imagine that’d be a pretty therapeutic occupation. Dunk tank worker. They stick you in a plastic tube and you get to fire off at random strangers for like six hours straight with no social or emotional repercussions. You just ache for the freedom, right?
I was always hesitant at the idea of putting a fair in the middle of the city, and indeed the result is a Technicolor jungle of cultural dissonance. Booths which look like they’re on loan from the Renaissance Faire selling hillbilly homebrew goodies share a slab of concrete with absurdly lit-up monstrosities of plastic flailing with screaming passengers. Tool and hip-hop share the air with a homey folk-country band playing live in one open theater.
But that’s a good enough portrayal of York City’s culture – stately cathedrals right across the street from dilapidated cathedrals, both perfect in their own way. A lot of everything splayed all over the place – the York Fair is just perfect for that.